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Infants can rapidly learn words in a foreign language

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Éda Nagy

on 27 April 2010

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Transcript of Infants can rapidly learn words in a foreign language

Introduction Methods Results Implications Infants can rapidly learn words in a foreign langauge during their first year of life, infants start learning the sound system of their native language
how does the ability to learn more than one language change over development?
is there a critical period?
how and how rapidly do non-simultaneous bilingual children acquire both their native language and the foreign one? Present study lexical acquisition (strong predictor of later language/cognitive achievements) in a foreign language
goal: whether infants hearing a speaker talking in a foreign language and labeling a given object in six different sentences will be able to learn the name of that object
participants: 24 infants, mean age: 20 months 13 days, native langauge: French
(important word learning improvements in the first half of the second year)
stimuli: unfamiliar, novel objects and pseudowords (e.g. chook/dal)
tested individually, quiet rooms, with their mothers, fluent French-English bilingual female experimenter
test trials, short warm-up in the native language
1. one at a time,two objects presented and named six times with a pseudoword
2. a third object presented, named with the same pseudoword, infant asked to put it in a cup infants chose the correct object 60.42% of the time
rapidly grasped the word learning nature of the exercise
performance across the foreign lg trial was relatively stable
decrease possibly due to tirednes or loss of interest

1. even in a foreign language, infants were able to locate in and segment from the sentences spoken to them the sound patterns of the words referring to the object they were seeing
2. infants were able to represent them and build sound pattern-object representations
3. by 20 months of age, infants' language learning abilities are still flexible enough to allow word learning in more than one language, even with minimal exposure Problematic points infants were presented with pairs of very different words, thus, they could have succeeded by relying on salient features of the words (if minimal pairs were used?)
are the same mechanisms used to learn foreign versus native words?
Thank you for your attention.
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